Building a Vanguard deck is easier than it looks. In this article we go through some of the key considerations you should have when building your own Vanguard Deck.
At the heart of very vanguard deck is your Grade Distribution, which is how many cards do you have of each grade. Because of the way the game is designed, any build will always follow a pyramidal shape. A typical build is 17 – 13 – 12 – 8, which refers to how many cards do you have of each Grade 0, Grade 1, Grade 2 and Grade 3. This should suit most decks in the sense that you will avoid misgrading while having a balanced amount of cards for both offense and defense.
We can break this distribution down further into smaller components:
Grade 0 (17)
1 x Starter
- 4 x 4 Triggers
A fun feature of Vanguard is that you get to pick your starter unit, which also happens to be a Grade 0. Thus all decks will stat out with 49 instead of 50 cards, since your first unit will be placed face-down in front of you. Starter units can be identified with the common ability of allowing you to move them to the rearguard circle when you ride a unit with the same clan.
All Vanguard decks must have 16 trigger units, out of which a maximum of 4 may be Heal triggers. You may choose not to play any Heal triggers though this is highly unadvisable. As with most card games, you can only play up to 4 copies of any card, and this includes trigger units. Thus, if you only have 1 type of Critical trigger, you can only play up to 4 copies. In order to play more Critical triggers you will need a different Critical trigger unit with a different name.
Still on the topic of triggers, it is generally advisable to run either 8 Critical or 8 Stand triggers with 4 Draw triggers where possible, instead of 4 of each type. This is because Draw triggers help you to build up a strong hand size while focusing on either Critical or Stand makes it easier for you to plan your attacks. If you have only Critical triggers, you can always lead the assault with your vanguard while if you only have Stand triggers, you can always lead with one rear guard attack. In addition, Stand triggers are really only effective when you have strong rear guards who can hit hard. Thus, having a mix of both Stand and Critical can make deck building tricky.
Lastly, some clans have additional non-Starter, non-Trigger Grade 0s such as Rock the Wall (Dark Irregulars) or Chappie the Ghostie (Granblue). These will increase your Grade 0 count by 1 or 2 and players often sacrifice Grade 3s for them. They are left in your deck and do not count as triggers when checked. However they do have effects which are normally useful for the mechanics of the clan they are found in.
Grade 1 (13)
4 x 8k vanilla boost
- 3 x Null Guard (0 Shield)
By “vanilla” we refer to units that have no abilities but have a Power of 8000, which is the highest unmodified Power any Grade 1 unit can have. All clans have at least 1 unit of this type, which is why we call them vanilla units since they are common, like vanilla ice-cream!
In addition, all clans also have Null Guards, which are units that you can use to Guard to avoid one attack completely by discarding a unit of the same clan from your hand.
Both of these cards are staples of most decks and you cannot go wrong with a 4 – 3 set-up. Some decks may play 1 additional Null Guard, or replace their 4 Vanillas with other boosters though these will depend on individual strategy.
The remaining 6 slots for the G1 cards are up to you to fill up depending on your strategy. Most people opt for a 3 -3 split, though some do go for a 4 – 2, with the the 2 slot given over a vanguard-only or a specific unit booster. However if you expect to go up against clans who can retire your rearguards (e.g. Kagero, Narukami), you may want to go with a 3 – 3 split instead to ensure you can easily replace those boosters.
Grade 2 (12)
4 x 10k vanilla boost
- For remaining 8 Cards, a 4 – 4 split for consistency, or a 3-way split for variety
Like Grade 1s, all clans have a vanilla Grade 2 with no abilities and a power of 10 000. These are usually considered a staple due to the ease of hitting magic numbers with a 10k rear guard.
The remaining spaces for Grade 2s are highly flexible and will depend greatly on your personal preference and play style. An easy way to build would be to pick another 2 Grade 2s and use 4 of each for consistency. A 3-way split such as 3-3-2 or 4-2-2 could also work but you sacrifice consistency for variety. This works best when your clan has Grade 2s whose abilities are highly situational and you are unlikely to use more than once per game.
Grade 3 (8)
4 x Main Vanguard, usually the card that you want to have as the Vanguard under almost all circumstances
- 4 of another Grade 3 that complements your main Vanguard, or a 2 – 2 split for Grade 3s whose abilities you are likely to use only once a game.
Finally we come to Grade 3s. There are no “vanilla” Grade 3s per se since all Grade 3s have some ability or another, barring the Kagero and Royal Paladin Grade 3s in the half-deck.
Although we came to Grade 3s last, it is actually better to build your deck starting from Grade 3s and working your way backwards. This is because Grade 3s often contain the most powerful abilities of the clan which will determine your deck’s overall play style and strategy. Pick the Grade 3s that you want and then work out the Grade 2s and Grade 1s, as well as the trigger combination that is most suitable for those Grade 3 abilities.
Some decks run with only 5 Grade 3s, which is only possible if you have a strong search mechanic such as the Royal Paladin clan.
You thought we were done right? :p You see, there’s more to a good deck than just randomly throwing in cards that look good together. In a Vanguard battle, you will always need to ensure that you can hit the magic numbers. If you haven’t already read my tips for beginners here, go check it out to see what all that’s about. Generally speaking, magic numbers are dictated by the highest power of a likely opponent’s vanguard plus another 5000. Presently, this would be 16 000 since some clans have 11 000 Power vanguards.
This means that you have to check if your deck is capable of pulling at least 16 000 or 15 000 (against 10 000 Power vanguards) by combining various Grade 3s and Grade 2s with your boosters. It doesn’t have to be able to do so naturally, but at least be able to do so with the aid of abilities that are somewhat easier to activate throughout the game. There is no point in having a deck with so many cards with cool abilities, but your overall power is just too low to pose a real threat. It is for this reason that vanilla Grade 2s and Grade 1s are so useful, because it is easy to hit 15 000 or 16 000 with them.
So once again, check your deck for its ability to hit those magic numbers easily, even better if they can hit not only + 5000 but +10 000 to break the 20 000 barrier!
Ah mixed clan decks! Fun to build and just as much fun to play. There is a certain art in building a successful mixed clan deck and everyone should try to build one since it makes full use of all of our spare cards.
Before breaking out your R and C tin, keep in mind the following pointers:
- Triggers from a clan different from your vanguard can activate so long as you have 1 rear guard of that trigger unit’s clan.
- E.g. Your vanguard is from Royal Paladins and you drive check a Kagero Critical trigger. The trigger only activates if you have at least one other Kagero unit on your rear guard. If you do, you can apply the Critical trigger to any other unit on your field, even if it is a non-Kagero unit.
- Try to fit cards from other clans whose abilities do not require the VG to be from a specific clan.
- Pick a clan as your base for your starter unit and triggers. This will also decide which clan units will form the majority of your deck.
As with pure clan decks, it would be better to build your mixed clan with the Grade 3s that you have in mind. Combine Grade 3s whose abilities complement each other well. Some great cards that can be used in any deck are listed below:
- CEO Amaterasu [Oracle Think Tank]
- Her ability to check the top card of your deck is very powerful. Coupled with the fact that you get an additional 4000 Power bonus as long as your hand has at least 2 cards means you get a really powerful vanguard to match your side attackers.
- Dragonic Overlord [Kagero]
- His ability to wipe out your opponent’s rear guards with his counter-blast is strong although you will probably need to use a Kagero base or risk incurring the -2000 Power penalty to his attack if there are no other Kagero units on the field.
- Highspeed Brakki [Spike Brothers]
- His ability to boost his attack by 5000 Power for a measely 1 Soul-blast can turn the tide of battle in your favour, especially if your vanguard checked a trigger, by forcing a 20k guard.
- Vanillas [All Clans]
- We aren’t kidding! Having more than 4 copies of a vanilla booster can be quite game-breaking as you can hit the magic numbers easily on any attack column. Moreover, you can use them to put on early pressure in the game since unlike your pure clan friend, you aren’t risking the loss of any abilities or trading an interceptor.
- Soul Chargers [Some Clans]
- Cards like Rock the Wall (Spike Brothers) and Redshoe Millie (Spike Brothers) give you an additional soul-charge, which can be useful for your Grade 3s if they rely on a mega-blast.
That’s it for general deck-building advice, for more in-depth analysis look out for our Deck Talks where we go into more detail for specific clans!
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